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Universal Orlando Resort's Halloween Horror Nights 2023 Haunted Houses Ranked

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort officially kicked off last week, unleashing a variety of terrors on unsuspecting guests. While there are a number of haunted attractions that open around the world every fall, few can match the inventive designs or production values of the houses developed by Universal Studios. In addition to the unrivaled size and scale of these houses, Halloween Horror Nights also has access to various beloved properties, allowing audiences to immerse themselves in fan-favorite franchises and worlds. Having experienced Halloween Horror Nights and all of its thrilling experiences, we’re here to break down how they all stack up to one another. 

Like previous years, Halloween Horror Nights delivers guests their own interpretations of iconic properties like the TV series Stranger Things or the video-game franchise The Last of Us, while also inventing all-new and entirely original frights unlike anything attendees have ever seen.

Much like actual horror movies, the effectiveness of each house will vary from one guest to the next, depending on what types of scares really crawl under your skin. While crafting our rankings, rather than determining the merits of each specific concept of a house, we focused on a house’s overall production value, how the environments and performers crafted a narrative, and many other elements. Given how many houses rely on actors leaping out of the darkness to startle guests, a lot more goes into the houses at Halloween Horror Nights to make for evocative experiences. 

Whether you’re on a time crunch and can’t check out all the houses or want to build a game plan for your visit, scroll down to see how all ten haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort compare to one another. Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights now through October 31st. 

Honorable Mention – Dr. Oddfellow’s Scare Zones

In addition to the ten haunted houses, Halloween Horror Nights also offers up five Scare Zones that audiences can explore to encounter a variety of up-close terrors. This year, all five Scare Zones fall under the theme of being the work of the disturbing Dr. Oddfellow, and while they are unified by that one concept, they all take place in different decades.

Throughout his unsettling experiments, Dr. Oddfellow has tapped into all manner of the macabre, from Jungle of Doom: Expedition Horror to the Dark Zodiac. The standout Scare Zones are Shipyard 32: Horrors Unhinged, which showcases a 1940s-era harbor that is overrun by Oddfellow’s terror, and Vamp ’69: Summer of Blood, which embraces the spirit of the ’60s and all of its sights and sounds, yet with heaping helpings of bloodsuckers. Anyone who’s ever attended a music festival knows that you could encounter some colorful characters there, though the juxtaposition of psychedelic hits from the ’60s blasting through speakers and the intimidating vampires makes for a memorable encounter.


10) Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate explores a dark fantasy world in which two wizards were caught attempting to steal Merlyn’s spellbook, with their transgressions resulting in them being turned into dragons. The two dragons represent fire and ice, with the house itself depicting various fantasy environments that have been the targets of the dragons’ powers.

This house leans far more into the realm of dark fantasy than horror, so while the sets and characters meet the same production values of other houses, they don’t evoke as much fear in guests. Fans of Universal Orlando Resort will appreciate that this house is a tribute to the Dueling Dragons roller coasters that were part of Islands of Adventure prior to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, though those hoping for more horror in the house will likely be left disappointed.

The house does conclude with the option to exit through either an ice- or fire-themed escape, yet many guests found themselves discussing what the differences were in either escape (or the lack of differences), it seems like the feature of “choosing thy fate” works better on paper than in practice.


9) Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Much like the Child’s Play and Chucky franchises themselves, Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count offers up a meta premise for the experience. The haunted house is meant to be a traditional haunted house that honors Chucky, but when the “real” Chucky invades the house, he unleashes actual terror in the attraction.

A challenge with Chucky in movies, TV, and at Halloween Horror Nights is that he’s a pint-sized threat that’s hard to initially be intimidated by. While the house does pay tribute to iconic moments throughout the sprawling franchise, the house offers up more startles and scares with victims of Chucky leaping out of the darkness as opposed to relying on scares inspired by the killer doll himself.

Fans of the franchise are sure to appreciate seeing the kills that were brought to life for the house, but it’s unlikely that Ultimate Kill Count will win over anyone who isn’t already a Chucky enthusiast.


8) The Last of Us

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

While The Last of Us haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights capitalizes on the success of the HBO TV series adaptation that debuted earlier this year, it’s worth noting that this house is more directly inspired by the original video game. The reason the distinction is worth noting is that the house is largely a tribute to the Pittsburgh level of the video game, in which Joel and Ellie are tasked with escaping the Pennsylvanian city and both its urban and suburban environments.

Established The Last of Us fans are sure to love spending any amount of time with Joel and Ellie, as well as appreciate being immersed in the world of the beloved game. For those who aren’t as familiar with the source material, the house will largely feel like many other zombie-like environments, as we venture through laboratories, warehouses, bathrooms, and neighborhood streets.

With so much of the video game and TV series relying on sound design and the silence that is interrupted by the infected, a haunted house that is quite loud throughout reduces the effectiveness of these scares. However, key sequences do feature snow, which adds to the atmospheric experience, and it’s still exciting to see Clickers and Bloaters in person.


7) The Exorcist: Believer

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

The upcoming The Exorcist: Believer serves as a direct sequel to the original 1973 The Exorcist, with the haunted house honoring the sequel and sets the stage for the key details of the upcoming film’s premise.

A major challenge with the Believer haunted house is that it can’t deliver too many specifics that reference the movie, as it would spoil various reveals that will be unleashed on audiences in October. The house serves more as a living trailer for the film as opposed to an all-encompassing experience, but even with those limitations, there are many effective elements.

Guests will immediately be able to uncover the setting of two girls who go missing in the woods and have become possessed by dark forces, as the rest of the house puts guests in the girls’ homes as they display the evil that has overtaken them. From levitations to sinister voices to full-blown demons with compelling designs all unnerving guests, there’s a lot about the house that works. The only limitations are that it feels like a partial story that is full of relatively expected imagery and sequences, so while it will build excitement about the movie itself, we can only imagine how thrilling a more complete version of the story would have been.


6) The Darkest Deal

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Loosely inspired by Blues musician Robert Johnson, who is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his impressive musical abilities, The Darkest Deal instead explores Pinestraw Spruce similarly making a bargain for fame and fortune.

The premise of this house might not immediately be the most frightening, with the success of the house instead being thanks to the creepy and immersive environments guests walk through. Guests will quickly be put on edge as you walk through dilapidated clubs full of questionable characters, as the story takes you through not only these venues but also rural farmlands. These detailed environments will make you believe that these intimidating figures could really live in locales like these, and you also get the sense that members of the audience wouldn’t care what sort of supernatural forces they might be bumping elbows with.

Adding to the effectiveness of these locations is a natural escalation of descending further and further into Hell, with there even being the pungent smells of dirt and decay as you get closer to your final destination.


5) Stranger Things 4

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Stranger Things is back at Halloween Horror Nights, with this year’s house celebrating the events of last year’s Season 4.

Vecna is the star of the show in the house, much like in Season 4 of the series itself, as guests explore scenarios like the Creel house, the Upside Down, the laboratory Eleven formerly called home, and Hawkins, Indiana itself. The house does an effective job of touching upon all of the important plot points of last season without being overly dense, while Eddie Munson earns the spotlight in the journey, for better or worse.

Similar to The Last of Us house, the Stranger Things experience won’t win over those who aren’t already familiar with the series, as the house feels less like an interactive experience and more like you’re a bystander walking through the show. That being said, fans of the series will love getting to walk through iconic locales as they come face to face with Munson, Vecna, and demogorgons. The nature of the series and the house itself also offer opportunities to draw guests’ eyes upwards, as we see glimpses into other realms and the victims of Vecna elevating them skyward, as the dark and disturbing Creel house will truly transport you to the spooky atmosphere.


4) Universal Monsters: Unmasked

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

The Universal Monsters have been icons of cinema for a century, with Halloween Horror Nights often incorporating them in various capacities. As recently as last year, The Wolf Man, Dracula, and The Mummy were all featured in a haunted house, though this year’s Universal Monsters: Unmasked shines a spotlight on slightly less notorious members of the roster.

Universal Monsters: Unmasked brings together Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Invisible Man as you travel through European locales. The mythology of each figure all complement each other well, making it feasible that there could have been a point in the lore of these characters in which they existed in the same city, with guests traveling from the Phantom’s catacombs and balconies to the city streets terrorized by Hyde to the laboratories of the Invisible man.

Guests will feel immediately transported to these locales, as a light drizzle falls on you as soon as you start the house, as each setting organically feeds into the next, leaving guests to wonder which monster will be stalking you next. The diversity of the characters also means you will be unsettled by the Invisible Man’s erratic mental state in one scene and impressed by Mr. Hyde’s brute force in the next. The highlight is a scene involving the Hunchback, which caps the sprawling nature of traveling from city sewers to the heights of Notre Dame’s bell towers.


3) Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Origins

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

This year’s Halloween Horror Nights really went all in on Dr. Oddfellow, as he is not only the throughline for all five of the Scare Zones, but he also earns his own house that sets the stage for his legacy of terror.

The house honoring the figure fully leans into the circus and carnival aesthetics, blending together all of the signature elements of these experiences. As proven in various stories over the years, there’s something inherently macabre and creepy about these environments that are meant to be playful and whimsical, as Twisted Origins puts violent and nightmarish spins on all of the signature components of the festive locales.

Even without the Dr. Oddfellow’s branding, the house is already effective enough as a disturbing spin on a carnival theme. What really pushes it higher up the list is that, of all of the mazes, the ways in which this house uses drapes, fabrics, and tent-like structures above you makes you feel like you’ve transported to the dark corners and hidden corners of a frightening circus as opposed to exploring a soundstage at a theme park. Also adding to the experience is the integration of Dr. Oddfellow at all of the Scare Zones, so you’d be smart to check out this haunted house early in your visit to add even more context to your entire visit to Halloween Horror Nights.


2) YETI: Campground Kills

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

This marks the third time that Halloween Horror Nights has offered a Yeti-themed house, with guests exploring the aftermath of a horrible attack. Set during the ’50s, guests will be transported to ranger stations, tents, RVs, and even the wide-open wilderness as a family of Yetis are in pursuit of one of their young.

Anyone who has ever gone camping is familiar with hearing strange noises out in the woods, and while many people don’t believe in Yetis, there’s still an ingrained fear that some sort of furry and ferocious creature could be lurking just out of sight. Yeti: Campground Kills entirely channels that fear, as the crime scene has you questioning whether the devastation has concluded or if you’re volunteering to become the next victim as you venture further into the camp.

While some of the strengths of other houses are the diversity of the scares, this house consistently terrifying you with Yetis of various shapes, sizes, and fur colorations creates a cohesive feeling that ties the whole experience together. The diversity instead comes from the locales, as each sequence offers environments that fall within the theme yet create unexpected alcoves and platforms to startle guests from. While you’re distracted seeing the silhouette of campers being torn apart, you won’t notice a Yeti arm coming down from above you, creating an omnipresent feeling of these threats.

The balance of immersing guests in relatively sparse spaces full of darkness while punctuating the landscapes with orchestrated focal points showcases just how well a haunted house can transport you. One highlight is also the implementation of a seemingly tranquil pond that disappears into the horizon, which makes the most of the space and truly transforms your surroundings.


1) Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings

(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

While many guests at Halloween Horror Nights will be looking forward to the recognizable brands and properties being highlighted at the event, 2023 marks yet another year in which the most impressive and eerie experience is an original creation, albeit one that borrows from familiar themes.

In honor of a blood moon, a devout cult invades a rural community to make sacrifices in order to resurrect a true deity, regardless of how many victims are in their way.

From the moment you walk into Bloodmoon, everything is bathed in the red light of the astronomical event, immediately setting you on edge. From there, one of the first vignettes is filled with cloaked and hooded figures, one of which is on the scaffolding above you, which sets the stage that every time you turn a corner, you will be treated to multiple levels of terror to create an expansive experience. Traveling from large barns to intimate homes, not only are there diverse environments, but the victims of this cult were subjected to a diversity of torment, as some were seemingly burned alive as others have been turned into makeshift candelabras.

Amplifying the terror is that the cult members themselves sport disguises that hide their identity, with multiple effective scenarios leading you to wonder if you are staring at static figures or if actual performers are sitting motionless until your guard is down and they pounce. Conversely, there are multiple times where you see that the cult members are being played by actual performers, but they are so distracted with their dark ritual that they pay you no mind, inspiring terror in wondering what will happen when their ritual is completed.

The set design and production value of Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings are compelling and detailed enough to make the house a standout experience, with the built-in narrative of the red lighting, cloaked figures, and backwoods cults turning colonial tools and antlers into weapons of violence all culminate into making the house a must-see experience for Halloween Horror Nights attendees.

You can see the full breakdown of ticketing options at the official Halloween Horror Nights website, which runs select nights at Universal Orlando Resort now through October 31st.

Which house are you most looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!



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